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Question of Substance
The indictments last week of New York Giant guard Eric Moore and Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive end Mark Duckens on federal charges that they possessed and intended to distribute anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) focus new attention on the use of these bodybuilding substances in the NFL. Moore and Duckens pleaded not guilty, but Drug Enforcement Administration officials in Atlanta, where the indictments were handed down, said that large quantities of steroids and HGH were seized from the pair and that arrests of other NFL players were possible.
The NFL tried to characterize the indictments as an aberration, claiming that it has administered 18,000 tests for steroids over the last three years, with no more than five positives. But HGH can't be detected through testing, and players can beat steroid tests with masking agents or by getting off the drugs in time. Also, there is reason to question the league's testing procedures. "I had one player call me who was frantic," says Tony Fitton, a convicted steroid trafficker who now advises athletes on steroid alternatives. "He had a test that week, and he had used Winstrol V [an anabolic steroid]. He turned out negative. It makes you wonder about the validity of the testing."
The difficulty of combating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports was underscored by a recent estimate by Prince Alexandre de Merode, president of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission, that while only five of the 10,274 athletes at the Barcelona Olympics tested positive, 10% of the participants in the Games use steroids or other performance-enhancing substances. De Merode's 10% figure—and even that may be low—would mean that the IOC is catching barely one of every 200 drug users. There's no reason to think the NFL is doing much better.
What's in a Name?
Over the objections of Canadians who fear that their nation's already fragile identity will be further weakened, the eight-team Canadian Football League announced last week that starting in July, it will field expansion teams in Sacramento and San Antonio. Reason: Struggling at home, th e CFL hopes that its wide-open game will find an audience in the U.S. As for quibbles that the CFL is now a misnomer—it will remain the Canadian Football League—consider these other mislabled sports entities.
•National League East and National League West. In the East: the St. Louis Cardinals. In the West: the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds. Last time we looked, St. Louis was 500 miles northwest of Atlanta and 340 west of Cincy.
•NFC East, NFC West and NFC Central. Even worse. Football's St. Louis Cardinals moved to Phoenix, but somehow they're still in the East, as are the Dallas Cowboys. In the West: the Atlanta Falcons. In the Central: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
•International League. All the teams in this baseball minor league are in the U.S., in such cosmopolitan cities as Pawtucket, R.I.; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; and Toledo.
•Pacific Coast League. Seven of this minor league's 10 cities are inland—including Colorado Springs, which is 1.000 miles from the Pacific.